The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day Two

Very sneaky of Batton Thomas today, trying to distract me from this awards show with a massive word zeppelin chock full names; tempting me with a whole list of googleable rabbit holes that I would have loved to dart down in other circumstances. I’ll give Tom this, the comics and artists he admires are usually worthy of respect. Maybe they haven’t earned a sacred tabernacle at the high altar in the temple of Rexall Drug, but I took a quick look at some of these artists and titles and saw art and story-telling leaps and bounds beyond the Funkyverse. Stuff capable of eliciting more than boredom, bafflement anger, and disgust.

No one in the Funkyverse elicits more anger and disgust from the Beady Eyed Nitpickers of this blog than Les Moore. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing, or what emotion he’s expressing, the pervasive undercurrent of unwarranted melancholic superiority that infuses everything he does truly gives him a face in need of a slap.

But which faces needed slapping the most? Your nominees for

The Backpfeifengesicht Award for Most Punchable Les Moore

1.) Remembering Old Friends (For the First Time in Years)

2.) A Single “Manly” Tear

3.) No True Sports-Fan Fallacy

4.) Self-Centered Stage

5.) Deadly Pundemic

6.) The Smile on My Face

7.) Interacting With Fans

And the winner of The Most Punchable Les Moore of 2021.

NO TRUE SPORTS-FAN FALLACY

This was an incredibly close and divided race, with no one face getting even a quarter of the votes. It seemed nearly every Les Moore face triggered a strong response. Les is a character complex in his awfulness, and every awful thing about him is the worst thing to someone. He’s designed so that, no matter your pet-peeve, this man will infuriate.

Not all categories were so evenly split in the voting. For some, the winner knocked the competition right out of the water, as was the case in our next award.

Most Puzzling Continuity Questions of 2021

1.) Who Directs the Community Band?

2.) What is Rachel’s Major?

3.) Who Did the Dinkles Have for Thanksgiving?

4.) Are the Reindeer Broken or is Tony Dead?

5.) Was Phil Holt Really a Ghost?

6.) Where Are the Kids? Who Are the Kids?

7.) What Even Is Continuity?

And the winner, by the widest margin of the voting this year, of the Most Puzzling Continuity Question of 2021:

WAS PHIL HOLT REALLY A GHOST?

Yes, while some of you did wonder about the breakdown of the Crankshaft/Winkerbean time differential, and others of you pondered the whereabouts of missing and mis-named children, it was the metaphysical question on the nature of death that was on most voters’ minds.

Join us tomorrow, as we look back on the stories of last year, and find out which narrative arc stood out as, arc of the year.

POST SCRIPT.

I realized I didn’t put up the graphs for yesterday’s awards, and thought some of you might be interested.

58 Comments

Filed under Son of Stuck Funky

58 responses to “The 2021 Funky Awards Week! Day Two

  1. William Thompson

    So the thousand year old comic-book guy wanted reprints of items from, uh, sixty years ago? Or more? And his widdle feelings are hurt because nobody else reads them any more? Awwws! Why doesn’t he settle for the latest string of first issue titles from Atomik Komix? Same outdated vibe, a lower price, and he’ll be prepared for the next toilet-paper shortage.

  2. bayoustu

    Welp, looks like we need a “Most Punchable Batton Thomas” category now…

    • Y. Knott

      Is it just me, or does Batton Thomas look like he’s being played by Woody Allen?

      • erdmann

        Ah. Yet another reason to punch him.

      • Rusty Shackleford

        Batty is of the generation that thinks you are better than others if you like Woody Allen movies, or at least it shows that you like the correct things.

        • The Duck of Death

          We know TB is a fan of Woody Allen because Les’ and Cayla’s shared fandom of Allen on one of their early dates got the nod from Ghost Lisa in the back seat.

          And I recall seeing some old photo of TB on his blog with a Woody Allen poster in the background (I think it was for Annie Hall).

          I’m guessing he feels that liking Allen’s work makes him sophisticated and worldly, probably completely missing the subtext that Allen’s character is not a Sophisticated Upper East Sider, but an awkward nerd who is always on the outside looking in. Unfortunately, he certainly wasn’t influenced by Allen’s ability to set up and tell a joke, construct realistically flawed characters, or tell a coherent story.

          • ComicBookHarriet

            A quote from one of his BURN THIS DRECK blog posts: ” I was never much of a slapstick humor fan, preferring the likes of Jack Benny and Bob and Ray. Later I gravitated toward the work of poet Ogden Nash and comedians Bob Newhart and Woody Allen. Oh, and let us not forget Pogo.”

          • The Duck of Death

            Thank you, for I shall hereinafter ever refer to “Match to Flame” as “BURN THIS DRECK.”

            Interesting that he namechecks Ogden Nash but not the pre-eminent Ohio humorist, James Thurber. All his choices are very talented people, and all determinedly middlebrow (though most let some sly subversion sneak in).* There’s nothing in the least wrong with being middlebrow, but somehow I suspect Batiuk, by putting these artists in opposition to slapstick humorists, thinks they’re highbrow.

            *Woody Allen may be a bit of an exception, since he wears his Brooklyn roots and Jewishness on his sleeve, which puts him outside the tastes of many.

      • TB would be flattered; I can’t find the interview but Batiuk once likened himself to Woody Allen, and about both of their fandoms favoring their “earlier, funnier” films/comic strips.

        • Y. Knott

          Interesting. If Batiuk’s work was one-tenth as funny and as daring as Pogo or Bob and Ray (both of whom took on McCarthy at the height of McCarthyism), it would be worth reading.

          Can I see the Woody Allen influence? Well, some of those early strips showed Batiuk COULD set up a joke and pay it off. So maybe “Sleeper” Woody Allen. But “Crimes And Misdemeanors” Woody Allen — if that’s what he’s going for — is clearly way, way, way, WAY beyond him.

  3. Epicus Doomus

    Batton Thomas just might be my most disliked “new” Act III character, which is a bold, bold statement given how unbelievably shitty the new Act III characters are as a group. There’s that undercurrent of low-key Ohioian sad-sackery there, a sort of pitiful quality, where you don’t feel sorry for him as much as you want to smack him with a rowboat oar and tell him to knock it the f*ck off. Writing himself into the strip as a meek defeated schlub is such a Batomesque thing to do. “Sigh” indeed.

    Speaking of Batomesque “artistic decisions”, to bring Phil Holt back from the dead just to have him hang around exchanging wry comic book banter at the AK studios is as Batomesque as it gets. Bonus trivia fact: only two FW characters have ever actually interacted with Ghost Lisa and one of them is Phil Holt. I mean, how weird is that?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      Batton Thomas seems to serve two purposes: “tell the readers which things Tom Batiuk approves of” and “show the readers how humble Tom Batiuk is.” Why, he took yesterday’s joke about being the treasurer of the dead cartoonists society totally in stride, didn’t he? Why, that’s self-deprecating humor! It’s not at all a bunch of thinly veiled ego-stroking!

      Because it’s vitally important to Act III of FW that the readers have a clear understanding of which comic books are correct. If we didn’t have Battton Thomas to tell us “Terry and the Pirates” is a bona fide Tom Batiuk-approved work, the genius of the in-universe “Rip Tide Scuba Cop” just wouldn’t be apparent at all. And we can’t have that, can we?

  4. Y. Knott

    “You mean a cartoonist can devote his life to his art for, say, 50 years, and then after his death, find his work completely forgotten, with no one interested in reading it?”

    “Uh, well, not necessarily, Mr. Thomas. It can also happen before his death….”

  5. RudimentaryLathe?

    Y’ know I don’t even remember which Punchable Les Face I voted for; they all tend to run together.
    Today’s strip made me curious; I checked “Terry and the Pirates” on Amazon and while it’s not a big seller – collections run from mid-300s to 1400s or less in Comic Strip category – the reader reviews are very positive. “Buck Rogers” the strip ranks considerably lower in sales but the tv show is fairly popular and well- rated. I think we can add “cult properties” to the list of things Batiuk doesn’t understand.

    • I remember, although it is true that every Les Moore face is more punchable than the last Les Moore face before. But it was the sports betting one. Les’s other faces were based on things that made sense in character: his moping about Lisa, or remembering non-Lisa-related traumas. Heck, even the “it’s not called Covid-19 for nothing” makes sense as something a high school teacher might say in the desperate hope to find anything that connects with a teenager.

      The sports betting panel, though? That’s a weird one-off Thing He Disapproves Of, never mentioned before or since and not connected to anything anyone could expect him to care about. It’d be like, you sit down with the guy you sort of knew from work and he starts talking about how he’s having this problem with his car that the mechanic keeps not being able to track down, and then he says it’s like the time in 1963 that Tino De Angelis was forging salad-oil warehouse receipts and almost started a run on American Express, and you’re supposed to somehow continue the conversation from there. That non-sequitur specificity is what lifts that panel above all the other Les Moore punchable faces for me.

      • Mela

        I went with The Smile on My Face because his answer is as obnoxious as his expression. And after we all sat through the burning of LA so Marianne could view the sacred tapes, saw no finished product, no premiere, and went straight to flop land, ANY response that Les has should be met with
        a punch and perhaps some duck tape on his mouth.

        • Banana Jr. 6000

          “Smile on My Face” is Les at his absolute worst. He’s happy the movie failed. A lot of talented, well-connected people invested their time, money, and effort to just to make the Lisa movie Les wanted. And paid for all his airfare, hotels, meals, parties, and other high-end experiences. And he’s delighted they all suffered as a result. Screw those people who finally told Lisa’s story correctly!

          It’s all about what Les wanted! Which was…. well, what exactly? What did he want? Why did he ever agree to this in the first place? The only answer that makes any sense is that he wanted the money. But the movie’s success or failure wouldn’t have affected a writer’s fee. (If anything, a “percentage of the gross” deal would have earned him more from higher ticket sales.)

          Les is just bitter at the world because Lisa died, and thinks he has a permanent right to abuse anyone he feels like because of it. Even though Lisa chose to die, and Les did nothing to keep her alive. And he’s not even bitter at the right people. It’s Holly who egged him into making the movie, when Mason and Cindy came to town to pitch him on the idea. All he ever had to say was “no.” Les put himself (and everyone else) through all this psychic anguish because he was too weak to say “no”, choosing instead to root for the movie’s failure from day one.

          But I still didn’t vote for this, because it’s so just damn unclear. Les really IS happy, he’s just hiding it behind faux sarcasm for some reason. And that reason is that Les can never be clear. He always acts cryptically so you have to guess what he wants and why. This is what sociopaths do. They constantly make you feel like you’ve hurt them, then force you to guess what you need to do to make it right. He wants everyone around him emotional and confused, so they’ll walk on eggshells around his precious little feelings every time he says the L-word. Even Cayla, who’s been his biggest ally and supporter through it all, gets this treatment.

          The archetype sociopath in fiction isn’t Hannibal Lector or The Joker or Alex from “Clockwork Orange.” It’s Les goddam Moore. And I wish he got more attention for that, because he’s a particularly instructive one. He’s not a murderer or a sexual predator; he’s more insidious than that. He the superficial, soul-destroying person you don’t realize you married until it’s too late.

          • The Duck of Death

            100% spot on with the behavior and why it is loathesome, but I would disagree on the diagnosis. I think covert narcissist would be a more apt label. Volumes have been written about covert narcissism, but here are a few snippets from a web page:

            The covert narcissist certainly craves importance and thirsts for admiration but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

            Although not always sneaky, some covert narcissists can take joy in creating confusion. They may not engage in blaming or shaming, but instead, causing people to question their perceptions and second-guess themselves.

            It is not a coincidence that narcissists, in general, tend to gravitate toward interacting with caring and compassionate people. The covert narcissist recognizes those opportunities for manipulation as well.

            They have no problem letting you know that you are not important…They might stand you up on a date, wait until the last minute to respond to texts or emails, always show up late, or never make confirmed plans at all. There is no regard for your time or interests, leaving you feeling small, unimportant, and irrelevant. (Cayla, girl, you’re never going on that China vacation. RUN!)

            Just as with an overt narcissist, you will likely find yourself doing most of the heavy emotional lifting in a relationship with a covert narcissist. Although the covert is more likely to appear emotionally accessible, it tends to be a performance and usually done with intent to exploit or eventually leave the person feeling small through disregard, blaming, or shaming.

          • Banana Jr. 6000

            @DuckOfDeath Your take is good as well. I’m not educated in psychology, so I may be off base. Les’ personality is another FW topic I’d love to see an academic paper about, the other being the role of women in the comic strip.

          • Les wanted the movie to fail because its failure means he is still special. If it was a success, many more people could relate to what Lisa went through and perhaps tie it in to their own lives. But, if he is the only one who can possibly see the depth and breadth of his own suffering, that means he is unique in the world.

    • erdmann

      I think i know why the Buck Rogers TV series is more popular than the comic strip. The comics never had Erin Gray is a shiny jumpsuit.

  6. Phil

    “I’m just a sad old man that can’t order comic strip collections from Amazon on my phone. Might as well get drunk and fall off a cruise ship.” ugh

    • Mela

      But you’ll still survive, apparently…

      • Banana Jr. 6000

        (off-topic Mary Worth rant) Sigh… I could make peace with Wilbur surviving, if he’s going to have a redemption arc. I think “Mary has had enough of Wilbur’s shit” could be a good story. In a realistic world he would lose his friends’ respect, have to give alcohol permanently, and lose his job (imagine if Miss Manners fell off a cruise ship drunk). And above all else, Wilbur would NOT get the girl. He’s frankly much worse than Aldo Kelrast at this point. And if MW doesn’t want unfavorable comparisons to FW and its endless enabling of Les Moore, Wilbur can’t be coddled over this incident.

  7. billytheskink

    You think you have it rough, Batton? Try being the “guy who won’t stop asking if we have Piranha Club collections” at your local comics shop…

  8. Apropos of nothing, Volume 8 of Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips (‘Hijinks from the Horn of Plenty’) is scheduled for release the 15th of March. And back in November, Fantagraphics began a reprint of Elzie Segar’s Popeye Sunday comics. Nothing you don’t already have, if you have the Complete Popeye strips published a decade ago, but you might not have those.

    • erdmann

      Fantagraphics has got to pick up the pace on Pogo. There’s another 10 or 12 years of the strip to go and at the present rate I’ll have the chance to discuss the books’ contents with Walt Kelly personally before they’re all published.

      • I would love if they did, but I am just impressed they managed to get a Complete Pogo reprint series that didn’t drift off to nothing after about the 1955 strips. I’ve got pieces of like three attempts at collecting the whole runs before this and they just could not get to the Inter-Planetary Oleo-ympics.

        Also needed: for GoComics or Comics Kingdom or someone to reprint the daily strips, day at a time. Now that The Far Side has an online presence Pogo has to be the most important comic strip you can’t read on the web.

        • erdmann

          Ursula Upvoter says “Amen to that, brother!”

        • J.J. O'Malley

          What about Crockett Johnson’s “Barnaby”?

          • That’s a great comic and it would be great to see it put online too; the collected books were a joy to read. But I’d have to rate Pogo as the more important comic. Just the number of modern cartoonists who cite that as an influence makes the case.

            (After Pogo, I’d vote for getting more of the Li’l Abner archive up, and then maybe early Gasoline Alley. I know many people have great things to say about Miss Peach, but I’ve never seen enough of that comic to appreciate what’s important about it.)

  9. Banana Jr. 6000

    Both “Fantasy Football” and “Deadly Pundemic” capture Les at his worst: smugly lecturing people when he clearly has no clue what he’s talking about.

  10. The Duck of Death

    Is there anything worse on this planet than the Enjoyment Police? They’re everywhere, telling you that you’re enjoying the wrong things — or if you’re enjoying the right things, you’re enjoying them in the wrong way.

    God forbid people relax or have fun in an unapproved way. God forbid their leisure activities not be didactic enough. God forbid people do things just for the fun of it, not to Improve Their Character.

    That attitude is bad enough, but — what world is Les living in where NFL players are models of virtue that we all should emulate?

    • Banana Jr. 6000

      And if anyone actually needs to Improve Their Character, it’s Les Moore and Tom Batiuk. They both have severe maturity problems. They need to stop lecturing other people how to live, and grow the hell up.

  11. I think I picked the “cameo” one, just because we saw Les blow take after take, chewing through the budget, and yet he feels his brief role was the best part of the film.

    That might be seen as self-depreciation, but given the egos involved, I doubt it.

    • Margaret

      Lord knows, I don’t want to make excuses for Les, but I do get the impression that he was supposed to be joking when he said that. I don’t think the people listening to him would be smiling the way they are if they didn’t think it was an attempt at humor.

      • Everyone smiles at Les’ remarks, when they’re not laughing uproariously at terrible jokes about “roof drafts.”

        Picking a punchable Les is like being asked which one of the times I vomited was my favorite.

  12. Perfect Tommy

    Les making that odd thumb and forefinger gesture really puts a pin in it.

  13. hitorque

    I’d have thought a lifelong newspaper comics artist would have an absolute ton of insider sources (not accessible to the general public) or networks or professional relationships forged though his decades in the industry where he could get his blessed old strip collections? Nevermind the fact that I don’t know why in the hell he’d want that shit in the first place? And if he *IS* the type to collect that shit, I’d have thought he would have been collecting it over the course of his goddamn 50-year career?

    This is like a retired journeyman major league baseball player turned manager who spent his entire life in the game lamenting the fact that he can’t find rare baseball cards and other autographed memorabilia at his local smalltown thrift shop…

  14. The Duck of Death

    One of my least favorite tropes is “fanboy fulminations from an author avatar.” You see it in books, films, and TV shows too. The quirky protagonist, by the end of chapter one, has given 3 passionate speeches about the influence of The Soft Boys on R.E.M. and the Paisley Underground movement of the early 1980s, or some other obscure topic that means a tremendous amount to the author but fuck-all to anyone else, and moves the plot forward not at all.

    It’s fanboyism disguised as character development, and it fools no one. The audience has signed up for a story, and instead has been given bloviations about the author’s pet passions. Phooey.

  15. be ware of eve hill

    ‘Canadian’ Mr. Monster collection? That seems oddly specific.

    Why would ‘Canadian’ make the comic book any different?
    Is Tim Hortons frequently mentioned in the comic book?
    Is his sidekick a polar bear?
    Does he carry a laser hockey stick instead of a laser pistol?
    Is it always winter in the comic book?
    Is one of his secret weapons duct tape?
    Does he apologize to the criminals after he apprehends them?

    Why emphasize ‘Canadian?’

    • I imagine it’s because it makes Batiuk an insider of some kind. “See, I’m the only one who knows that Mr. Monster was made by a Canadian. That knowledge means I am so much better than you, because I understand things from the inside while you’re just a clod, looking in from way outside.”

      • be ware of eve hill

        It does seem like Batty is self-aggrandizing.
        Batty: Look at me. I’m an expert!

        Did Canada have a ‘Silver Age of Comics’?

        • batgirl

          A Golden Age, yes, I think – when paper shortages and reduction of imports during WW2 meant we didn’t get American comics, so various Canadian heroes were created and published. The ‘Canadian Whites’ thing was from not having the budget for 4 colour printing, so they were done in b/w or with one extra colour on b/w.
          There was no Silver Age because after WW2 when American comics flooded back in, with all their gaudy 4 colours, the Canadian industry pretty much folded.
          Googling this up, I was surprised to discover that Captain Canuck didn’t appear until the 1970s. The 1940s version was Sergeant Canuck.
          Info on characters here: http://www.internationalhero.co.uk/c/canagold.htm

    • ComicBookHarriet

      One similar thing I can think of is within the old Marvel Transformers comics. While in the US Transformers comics came out once a month, in the UK they were released in magazine format and came out more often. In order to fill this gap, Marvel UK original Transformers comics were created. Later the Omnibuses for these collections were released as Transformers UK.

      You also had GI Joe repackaged as Action Force to try to sell it to the UK.

      • be ware of eve hill

        Now that you mention the UK, the British Dennis the Menace is not the same character as the US version. He is older with dark hair, has a hound sidekick named Gnasher, and loves to use his ‘catty’ (slingshot).

        • billytheskink

          The two Dennis the Menace comic strips are one of the most remarkable coincidences of all time. Not only was each developed around the same time without any knowledge of the other, both strips made their public debuts on the exact same day, March 12, 1951!

      • be ware of eve hill

        I meant to close by stating there is the possibility the Canadian Mr. Monster is a uniquely different character. Research for later.

        • J.J. O'Malley

          But then that begs the question of whether there’s a Canuck version of the Pizza Monster? Does he tell the manager of the Flin Flon Montoni’s franchise to leave a pie “oot” on the counter? Are the insides of his costume’s box lids encrusted with bits of poutine cheese and Canadian Bacon? Are his appearances marked with entrance music by Leonard Cohen? Is he menacing yet unfailingly polite? The truth must come oot…er, out!

        • batgirl

          Google sends me to the RAID store : “Mr. Monster was one of the many heroes created during the Golden Age of Canadian comics. These “Canadian whites,” as they have since been dubbed due to the stark white paper they were printed on, were the result of the War Exchange Conservation Act during World War II. The act restricted the importation of non-essential goods from the United States into Canada, including fiction periodicals. Other notable characters from this era include Nelvana of the Northern Lights, Johnny Canuck, Book Windsor, and Canada Jack. Sit back and enjoy the bizarre adventures of this unique hero collected for the first time in one place.“

          • be ware of eve hill

            Thank you for your research! 👍

            I only bothered as far as the wiki page. It mentioned Mr. Monster, Canada, and the 1940s. Nowhere as detailed as your research.

  16. Banana Jr. 6000

    Amazingly, “Skyler reverts from an 8-year-old to a barely verbal 2-year-old” didn’t even get nominated for Most Puzzling Continuity Question. Granted he’s a minor character, but that was pretty jarring.